March 2014

To be detached and separated is liberating: a case of Ardea herodias

by Marion Cattley

A male patient aged 41 came to see me because his sister had nagged him to come. He is suffering from problems with his teeth which the dentist can’t help.

Marion Cattley (MC): Tell me about what is happening to your teeth...

Patient (P): My sister said you would sort me out, but I’m not too fussed because I’m sure if I just wait a while it will go away and everything will be back to normal. I’m in a crisis but apparently I’m too calm about it. Everyone things I should react, but I don’t feel the need to. 

I’m changing and what was important to me is no longer. I’m much calmer and I like my own space. I am quite irritated that people want to get me involved to take my mind off things. I’m okay on my own, but nobody listens to me. It’s fine the way things are for the time being. I want everyone to go away and leave me alone, let me have my time and my thoughts. They think they’re being helpful.

My sister thinks I’m having a breakdown because I’ve become spaced out and non reactive – well if it is a breakdown, it’s a good one. I’m a changed man, but my friends don’t recognise me – that’s their problem. I know now everything happens for a reason, it’s just that I’m a little confused as to what this means to me and my life. Maybe the loner in me was waiting to get out and I was being suffocated by the very essence of life?

MC: What’s happening to your teeth?

P: They ache – they never used to – and now, I find it difficult to chew food, so I tend to avoid that and just swallow food down, which is not ideal as I sometimes get indigestion.

MC: Tell me more…

P: That’s it – they ache and I can’t chew my food very well (long silence). I can’t say more than an ache that makes it difficult to chew my food.

MC: Tell me about this ache that makes it difficult to chew your food…

P: Just an ache – like when you have a tooth out and it’s no longer there but it aches as if it were – almost like the teeth have been forced to move into the spare gap that’s been created and so they ache from having been pulled along to fill the gap. My eyes seem to be very watery also, especially in the wind. I had it checked out and nothing shows up on the x-ray. There is no gap in my teeth with a tooth missing, although this is what it feels like.

P: What’s it like for the teeth to be forced to move into the spare gap and aching from having been pulled along to fill the gap…

P: Well, I don’t mean this is actually what is happening, it’s just what I think it might be like.

MC: It’s fine, this is exactly what I need to know… how you imagine what it might be like really helps me, so don’t worry, just continue with that thought process… teeth forced to move into the spare gap and aching from having been pulled along to fill the gap…

P: No, it’s just an ache and I can’t say more than that.

MC: What did the dentist say?

P: No reason for the ache, X-rays fine, so just get on with life and your ache. So, that wasn’t overly helpful, but at least I didn’t let him do anything to me.

MC: Imagine if your teeth were forced to move along into the spare gap and your teeth were aching from having been pulled along to fill the gap…

P: Well that’s what dentists would do to you. Dentists wouldn’t want to leave the gap, they’d give you braces, if you were a child, to align all the teeth and move them along so there is no gap.

MC: What’s it like with no gap?

P: Crowded again, no space – forced to go somewhere you don’t want to – all busy, no time to think, no time to be yourself. The gap is good.

MC: Why is the gap good?

P: It’s on it’s own – it’s fine. It’s quite detached from the others and it feels good. It has the space and there is no need to fill it. It is separate from the other teeth and it has made a statement for all to see. It may not look good but it is not worried about fitting in. It has resisted being forced by everyone to be filled up by the other teeth by moving along. It can withstand anyone doing anything to it. It knows its own mind. It is happy and content and feels very individual. Everyone notices that it is different because it looks different (long pause as he looks out of the window – he is very still, just staring).

Um, this is quite an amazing experience… you’ve got me talking about myself and I don’t do that, but it feels okay and very surreal and safe. My teeth have stopped aching just for the moment, I feel uplifted.

As you realise when I talk about the gap, I’m talking about myself. I was being forced along to join up with the others. It’s a very difficult time for me as my wife (she’s American) has needed to go back home and has taken the children to be educated there. What’s weird is that this is okay. The separation feels good, but people expect me to hate her for what she’s done to me. What has she done to me? She’s right, it needed to happen. I had no time to hear her. The world of web design is hectic, out for yourself, and I only joined them all in the evenings – even at weekends, I was working. Too busy, no time to think, to be yourself, to know yourself. This has done me a favour. I don’t know if it needs sorting, but for now I will just enjoy being me. 

I’m supposed to be frantic with worry. Everyone thinks I’m on drugs because I’ve just chilled out. My sister says I’m spaced out. I’m going about work in a different way. I’m letting things evolve and happy to let them take the time to do so – why the rush? It will all come good. Our marriage, the kids – they’re still there, but we need time to see how things pan out – just be. It’s a very powerful state to be in and I’ve never known any feeling like it.

I need help to be really all right about them being in the States for now and my being all right with my detachment from them.

I know what it’s all about. I can sense things, I’m in touch with myself. So, the issue is all about my detachment and at the same time, my connection to my family.

MC: Say some more about this…

P: To be detached, separated, is liberating. I have time to reflect. Friends are too keen to offer advice, having no experience of what it is like for me. I’m on the sidelines watching my life unfold in front on me, waiting to see what should be done – not rushing, just letting it evolve.

S., my wife, hasn’t taken the children from me. She’s been trying to tell me for the last five or six years and I wasn’t prepared to listen. I didn’t have time. She’s right, she had to do something for herself. I don’t hate her, I love her, she hasn’t done this to me. I don’t need to attack her for what she’s done. She knows what is right for our family, and is waiting for me to catch up – there’s no pressure on me. She is the calmest most beautiful person I know, but I don’t know how to connect with her. She’s a touchy feely sort and I’ve never been like that, I think, but now – well I sense things and observe and can see. I’ve never done that before.

MC: How do you sense things, observe and see?

P: I wait. I have time, all the time in the world. I just want to stand still and watch as the world goes on all around me. There are so many things I never saw before, the wonder of the world and wonder of nature all around us.

MC: What do you see?

P: Me alone, tranquil in an environment that I feel relaxed in – not moving, totally still, watching, observing, feeling the air, breathing the air, smelling the air, looking to the sky, the wonderment of it all. I want for nothing, I have it all – contentment. I spend hours like this, but at darkness, I go and join the family and then, I’m back the next day, all alone again, isolated from the world. I feel euphoric.

MC: Where are you?

P: Along the riverbank fishing. No one around, beautiful day, silence, stillness. Afraid to move to break the spell, but I can move unnoticed, gently without noise, no ripples in the river, nothing stirs, it is so tranquil. I’m in tune with the universe. I am so lucky to have this. S. unknowingly has brought me to her. It would have been so easy to do what friends suggested and destroy her as she just left. But I didn’t feel that. She just flew the nest and one day I have to fly to be with her…

Prescription: Ardea herodias, great blue heron

Follow ups

Five weeks later: he has persuaded his fellow directors to allow him to develop the business over in America. He will move to be with the family in three months’ time. He had flown out to see his wife and children and they are excited about him joining them. He says he is a changed man and his wife says she has got whom she married back. She needed to do this to see if he would stop and think about where they were and what they were doing… She calculated the risk and got it right.

Eight weeks later: he continues to enjoy time on his own and they are buying a house in the States with a river running through the land, so he can sit and gaze and be one with nature with his family around him. He longs to be with them after work, to tell them all about his day – he realises how he never communicated with them and is longing for that connection.

He just knows what is right now and the direction to take. It’s not a problem for him to come back to the UK for business, as he loves flying, finding it exhilarating.

He has a ‘beautiful’ dream: I was walking by the river and I felt I had not to disturb anything. You could hear a pin drop.  On the other side, further down, I saw a heron standing proud and strong on one leg, almost frozen in the moment. For such a big bird, it was completely balanced and looking at its reflection in the water – watching, waiting, patiently …. so still, so calm, so at one. That’s how I feel. Just waiting for life to unfold and instinctively, I know what I need to do…

By the way, my teeth don’t ache any more and my eyes don’t water up all the time. 

I am so in love with S. and the children … I’ve found them.


Analysis of the case taken from Jonathan Shore, Rajan Sankaran Schema 2006, Lectures Goa, India 2006 Joshi Seminars, and Jeremy Sherr’s proving.

Themes in the case

General Bird remedy themes: detachment, impartiality, natural knowing, conceptual thought (overview); spiritual swareness, empathy, relationship, freedom, travel

Key essence of the case

Connection versus detachment and independence

Patience, waiting versus goal orientated

Calm versus overwhelm

Something hidden, activity below the surface; seeing verus not being seen

Head and neck physical symptoms


Ardea – the heron’s perspective

Provers experienced detachment from friends and family, and the rest of the world. They needed the freedom to go their own way and felt a great inner calm if they were allowed to do so. They were protective of their own ideas about achieving a task and became frustrated and irritable when hindered. They disregarded what others might think of them and did not feel the need to communicate. They look at life from another perspective with the mind organised around concepts and ideas with a dynamic shifting of emphasis.

Although case taking was by Sensation method, physical and mind rubrics also indicate Ardea herodias

Teeth: sensation of displaced as if; location of teeth has changed, as if

Throat: choking, constricting 

Eyes: lachrymation, constant, tears, acrid, salty, burning, heat general

Mind: absorbed, buried in thought. Alone, sensation of being alone. Fear - general opinion of others; overwhelmed by stress; patience; separate feels; industrious, mania for work

Ardea herodias

The great blue heron is a wading bird found in North America. It stands absolutely still in the water until a fish comes in range, then it moves at lightning speed to catch the fish. It walks in the shallow water without causing a ripple on the surface or stirring up any mud from the riverbed. The remedy was proved by Jonathan Shore.

Peter Fraser describes the heron remedy state in his book Birds – Seeking the Freedom of the Sky.

The overwhelming feature of the remedy is calmness and detachment experienced by the provers, confirmed clinically. Calmness, detachment, the sensation of floating and meditative state are found in many bird remedies, but in heron they are the central state. There is an extraordinary quiet with no need to say anything. Their still contemplation means they become observers rather than participants in life. There is an expectation that something will happen but because of their detachment they are able to wait until that times comes. Everything moves at its own pace and they understand this and allow it to happen.

The detachment is particularly noticeable in their interaction with the people they are close to. It is a definite detachment but it does not mean they do not feel for these people or love them deeply. The heron is detached enough to see the true and deeper fairness of a situation.

Jonathan Shore also brings out the euphoric, mood-lifting and joyful emotions, and deep sadness. 


The Great blue heron represents the balance between our male and female energy. It moves in sync with its intuition, its inner knowing and flows with grace. 

Flickr: Lonely man; Oleh Slobodeniuk; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
Wikimedia Commons: Great blue heron, Ardea herodias; Mike Baird; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Categories: Cases
Keywords: detached, detachment, separate, connection, liberating, calm, stillness, contemplation, reflection, patience, time to reflect, loner
Remedies: Ardea herodias


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Liliana Szabó
Posts: 10
Homeopath from Argentina
Reply #2 on : Mon August 29, 2016, 14:47:03
Dear Dr: your case is beautiful. Would you recommend to use Ardea herodias also for people who are looking for peace and calmness but cannot achieve it because of their daily responsibilities? People who would like to detach themselves but are unnable to do it? thank you
Doug Brown
Posts: 10
Teeth and Birds
Reply #1 on : Thu March 06, 2014, 04:32:14
Hi Marion,
Thank you for sharing this exquisitely beautiful case! I love how the chief complaint at the local level mirrors his general experience of himself in the world, and also how he is himself aware of that...rather extraordinary for a non-homeopath!
As birds don't have teeth, it's interesting also to see how his so-human teeth "took on the job" of manifesting his bird state.